Jerry Paris
Paris (right) alongside Dick Van Dyke on The Dick Van Dyke Show
William Gerald Paris

(1925-07-25)July 25, 1925
San Francisco, California, U.S.
DiedMarch 31, 1986(1986-03-31) (aged 60)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater
Occupation(s)Actor, director
Years active1949–1986
Ruth Benjamin
(m. 1954; died 1980)

William Gerald Paris (July 25, 1925[1] – March 31, 1986) was an American actor and director best known for playing Jerry Helper, the dentist and next-door neighbor of Rob and Laura Petrie, on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and for directing the majority of the episodes of the sitcom Happy Days.

Early life

Paris was born in San Francisco, California. His name, as frequently reported, was indeed Paris, and not Grossman, his stepfather's surname, which he never adopted.[2] Paris' mother's maiden name was Esther Mohr.[3]

After serving in the United States Navy during World War II, he attended New York University and the Actors Studio in New York City. After graduating, Paris moved to Los Angeles, where he attended UCLA and studied acting at the Actors Lab in Hollywood.[4][5]


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Paris had roles in films such as The Caine Mutiny, The Wild One, and Marty. He also played Martin "Marty" Flaherty, one of Eliot Ness's men, in a recurring role in the first season of ABC-TV's The Untouchables, besides making guest appearances on other television series.

After having directed some episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show in which he also played the recurring character of next-door neighbor and dentist Jerry Helper, Paris won an Emmy Award in the 1963-64 season for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy for the series.[citation needed] He later devoted himself to directing both in film and television, including The Partridge Family and Here's Lucy (including the famous third season opener featuring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton), but he worked most notably on Happy Days, where he directed 237 of the show's 255 episodes. Imitating Hitchcock, he appeared uncredited in at least one episode of every season.

Paris also directed episodes of Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Ted Knight Show, and Blansky's Beauties. He returned to directing feature films in 1985's Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment and 1986's Police Academy 3: Back in Training. In all, he is credited with directing episodes of 57 TV titles and as an actor in 105 titles.

Personal life

On March 18, 1986, Paris was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where doctors discovered he had a brain tumor. He underwent two surgeries, but doctors were unable to remove the tumor. Paris remained hospitalized until his death on March 31 at the age of 60.[5] A private memorial was held at Paris' home in Pacific Palisades on April 2.[1]





  1. ^ a b Cook, Joan (April 2, 1986). "Jerry Paris, TV Director, 60". The New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Berrin, Danielle (October 10, 2010). "Tom Bosley, Ron Howard and the Jewyness of 'Happy Days'". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  3. ^ Steel, Bert (July 20, 1968). "Thumbnail of a young man who's really going places". Windsor Star. p. D1. Retrieved October 4, 2021 – via
  4. ^ Brant, Marley (2006). Happier Days: Paramount Television's Classic Sitcoms, 1974-1984. Billboard Books. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-8230-8933-8.
  5. ^ a b Folkart, Burt A. (April 2, 1986). "Jerry Paris, TV Comic, Director, Dies". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 18, 2017.